Kiwi insurer Tower has today announced its commitment to remove the duty of disclosure from its sales and claims processes before the end of the year.
Tower CEO Richard Harding says that there's been a bit of talk in the news lately about how little trust people have in insurers, and while it's hard to hear and we don’t agree with it all, from our own conversations with many Kiwis we see that there is absolutely some truth in it.
"We’ve been told one of the things that concerns people the most is not knowing for certain if their claim will be accepted and paid, said Harding.
"It comes back to the tricky, catch-all question that insurers can ask when you buy insurance, along the lines of ‘is there anything else that we should know?’ - which means that if customers unwittingly leave something out, they can be disappointed when it comes time to making a claim."
"Because of these concerns, we’ve started removing this question from our systems, processes and policies, and by the end of the year, people who buy home, contents or car insurance from Tower will no longer be asked this question."
Harding says that in its place will be something called "Trust Both Ways", which changes things in a big way by making it Tower’s responsibility to ask the right questions when customers come to buy insurance.
"All customers will have to do is answer the questions we ask truthfully," said Harding.
"We’re doing this because we trust our customers to be honest with us, and in turn they can trust that we’ll pay their claim. It’s about giving our customers certainty."
"Along with simple-to-understand policy documents, Tower customers will know up-front what they’re covered for and will be able to take comfort from the fact that if they’ve been honest with us from the outset, their claim will be accepted and paid."
"Like we did with risk-based pricing, we led the way openly and honestly talking about these changes and we commit to this level of transparency for all changes we make that impact our customers," said Harding.
About the Duty of Disclosure
-In New Zealand, consumers are currently required to disclose all material facts which are or ought to be known by them and are material to whether an insurer provides insurance.
-While insurers do ask a number of questions, it is currently the consumers’ responsibility to provide any other information they think may be relevant, even if they are not asked a specific question.
-Consumers can be penalised for not disclosing important information. It may result in insurers reassessing the terms and conditions of cover consumers could be offered, or claims may not be accepted.
About Tower’s "Trust Both Ways"
-From the end of the year, Tower will no longer ask customers a ‘catch-all’ disclosure question.
-This means that it will no longer be the customers’ responsibility to know what they need to disclose.
-Instead, Tower will ask a small series of questions and customers will simply be required to answer these questions truthfully.
-Tower is the first general insurer with policies awarded the Writemark Plain Language Standard for its home, contents and car policies - this means they’re easy to understand.
Born and bred in New Zealand, Tower Insurance has been supporting New Zealand communities with their insurance needs for 150 years. While our heritage is important to us, we’ve set our sights on the future and on becoming a digital challenger in the New Zealand insurance sector.
We believe that people deserve better and we’re set on challenging industry norms and traditions to offer people a genuinely different, better, Kiwi alternative for insurance. This means customers will have access to stunningly simple policies at a fair price, and when we need to help set things right, customers will get an amazing claims experience.